Defending champions Butali Sugar Warriors and Wazalendo felt the impact of their new signings as they launched their 2019 men’s hockey Premier League campaign with wins over the weekend.
Calvin “Kanu” Otieno, formerly of Kenya Police, scored Butali’s second goal in the 42nd minute to spur them to a 2-0 victory against stubborn Sailors on Sunday at Nairobi's City Park Stadium.
It’s Frank Wanangwe, who opened the score charts for Butali when he sunk in from a penalty corner in the 11th minute, before Otieno’s field goal exploits.
Butali Sugar Warriors also fielded Amos Barkibir, who they also acquired from arch-rivals Kenya Police for the season alongside Moses Ademba from Multimedia University and defender Arif Shah, who has re-joined the Kisumu-based side from Nairobi Simba.
Butali Sugar team manager Kamal Sembi said that they are determined to seal their fourth cup success after having won the diadem in 2014, 2015 and last season.
“We have prepared well for the last three months and I am sure the coaches will have a selection nightmare. We have a big and strong squad of 30 players,” said Sembi.
“Our performance will depend on the day but we can’t underestimate our rivals.”
Sembi reiterated that their target this year is to defend their crown come end of season in December and ultimately win the continental crown.
It was Sailors’ second defeat of the season, having lost to United States International University (USIU) 3-0 in a mid-week clash last week.
Dunston Baraza, who has been signed from Multimedia, lived up to his billing when he completed a bounty weekend for Wazalendo with their third goal a minute from full time to see them whack Greensharks 3-0 on Saturday.
After a barren first half, Nelson Shilaku put Wazalendo ahead in the 42nd minute from a field goal, before Joseph Kuramah made it two in the 52nd minute in a similar fashion.
In the women’s Premier League, Kenyatta University Titans forced former champion Sliders to a goalless draw, while defending champions Telkom claimed a walkover against JKUAT, who failed to show up for their match.
Telkom had been forced to a barren draw by newcomers Amira Sailors the previous weekend.
Nakuru, who were relegated to men’s Super League, launched their campaign strongly with a 2-1 win over Wazalendo Masters.
Kevin Kimutai put Nakuru ahead in the 10th minute when he converted from the spot, but Richard Njuki levelled for Masters with a penalty corner 10 minutes later.
Then Gary Jean Louis would score the winner for Nakuru nine minutes into the third quarter. The leagues take a break this weekend for national teams training.